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- Adi Blum
For at least four decades, plastic recycling has been an ambitious solution for the global plastic waste problem. Mechanical plastic recycling has not been economically viable without subsidies and/or legislative mandates. More recently, polymer depolymerization, known as chemical recycling, is gaining momentum as a possible economic alternative to mechanical recycling. However, at its current scale of operation, chemical recycling, a complex and expensive technology, is not without its own challenges. How is innovation moving the needle toward achieving economically viable plastic recycling technology? Will the integration of plastic waste pyrolysis processing within refining and petrochemicals operations prove to be an economically feasible approach? In the foreseeable future, will plastics recycling require a widely implemented, holistic approach that cannot be realized by technological innovation alone?
Success in the energy transition will depend on the focused attention of major emitters (China, the United States, the European Union, India) and the engagement of emerging and developing economies that will account for over half of global emissions through 2050. Could intensifying conflicts—between the United States and China, between Russia and Ukraine, across the Middle East—derail major powers from delivering on climate pledges? How might domestic politics and national expectations influence action on climate change? What measures are necessary to ensure that developing economies support ambition for climate action?